SERIOUS concern was expressed yesterday at reports that teenagers — some as young as 14 — were going to drug parties where couples were openly having sex.
The shocking story was recounted at a conference organised by Community Awareness of Drugs (CAD), an education and training agency celebrating 25 years in existence.
CAD co-ordinator Bernie McDonnell said that in a recent training programme for parents in the greater Dublin area one young mother said she knew a 14-year-old girl who was going to parties where drugs were being taken.
“She’s very concerned about her because she is going to these parties and part of what goes on is that one couple has sexual intercourse at the party in front of others.
“It’s the first time for us to hear of something like that. The mother herself is in recovery, she knows the scene very well. I don’t know whether young people are becoming that overly familiar with each other in front of other people, but it is a major concern.”
The conference was attended by 80 community workers from Dublin, Cork, Waterford, Galway, Limerick and Clare.
Mick Ferron, manager of Sphere 17 Youth Service in Darndale, north Dublin, told of how they responded to reports of a rise in suicide among young people in 2006.
He said a study by the Northside Partnership found there had been 46 suicides between 2004 and 2006 in the Dublin 17 area, and that the figure had increased year on year. He said that in Darndale, a relatively small local authority area, there were seven deaths in 2006.
“We were getting alarming feedback about people who wanted to purchase a plot where their friends died.” He said suicide was being seen as a “realistic option” for some people who were in debt.
He said they consulted with medical experts and researchers and with the Samaritans. Together with local young people, they came up with the idea of a fridge magnet, with the logo “Because you are worth it”, with information and advice.
They subsequently held a Celebrate Life Week, which focused on positive mental health.
Dr Gerry McCarney, a consultant psychiatrist running an adolescent drug service in Dublin said they had seen a rapid rise in cocaine use. He said cannabis had become so pervasive in some communities that young people did not consider it a drug.
He said they had set up a specific programme, called SASSY, three years ago, for young people using drugs, excluding heroin, and alcohol. He said while the project had been authorised to have 12 staff, it still only had 1.4 staff, a situation he described as “unfortunate”.
Ms McDonnell called on drugs strategy minister John Curran not to cut the training and education allocation as the budget cut drugs funding by 5%.
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